Wire Wheels

All of the chrome wire wheels were a bit ropey. I’ve spent a number of hours on the internet and in local wheel refurb shops looking for someone who could remove the rust, deep clean them, and lacquer them to make them easier to maintain in that sparkly condition.

I failed to find anyone who would do this at a reasonable price. So I set about the task myself. I think the results are pretty good.

Arry The Stag

For a number of months now “TR Tony” and his step son “Arry” have been following a parallel journey with the restoration of their Stag UNY49M. Whilst I have been blogging my progress, Tony has used the social media channels and has a video diary of progress and very interesting articles – Stag related.

I recommend that you visit his web page: https://arrythestag.com

Here are a couple of links to articles I found particularly of interest:

Tony was kind enough last week to send me a “Arry the Stag” window sticker which will be worn with pride!!

Differential

Whilst the rust on the rear drive shafts and brakes was predominantly surface based, that couldn't be said for the diff and diff mounting plate. Detritus had obviously built up between the mounting plate the rear of the diff. Moister and salt had then settled in this gap and rotten both. There was hardly any steal left in the mounting plate.

The diff was just as bad. The rear plat had disintegrated to powder. A touch with a screwdriver and the screwdriver went straight through the back-plate of the diff. As repairing the rear of the diff case is beyond my skills, I popped to T.D Fitchett in Telford and swapped the complete unit for a reconditioned one. Easy but expensive fix.

Petrol Tank

When the underside of the car was sand-blasted, they ruptured the fuel tank and had the drain it. The fuel tank in the Stag is positioned inside the boot which is normally a good place to put it as the alternative is usually slung under the body somewhere where it is exposed to water and salt e.g. the TR7. However, being a Stag the boot tended the collect water which submerged the base of the fuel tank and rotted it.

When the sand-blasters told me about the hole in the fuel tank i was immediately worried that the bottom corner had rotten away. Whilst there was a clear hole and the steel had thinned, it was by means as bad as I has imagined.

Welding a used fuel tank is dangerous to say the least, so the next best is to use solder and a soldering iron to fill the holes. I have then covered all of the thinning areas with PC-7 Epoxy paste. It’s petrol and ethanol resistant and incredibly tough.

I will leave this to cure thoroughly for a week or so, then clean the inside of the tank before sealing the inside and the outside of the tank tank sealer. I’ve use Rustbuster Slosh for the inside and Rustbuster Tank Guard for the outside.

Here’s the fully cured and painted end result

Rear Brakes – Part 1

The rear brake drums need a little more TLC than the rear drive shafts, although most of the effort was the removal of superficial rust.

There was sufficient depth on the brake pads for these to be reused. The automatic adjusters were serviceable as were the brake shoe pull off springs.

The back-plate, hand-brake lever and brake drum all needed the surface rust to be removed and to be repainted – again black Hammerite was the finish I chose.

The brake shoe retainers (spring, pin and clip) I have replaced as they can to less that £3 and were too fiddly to rub down and paint. I also replaced the wheel cylinder and the rubber hand-brake boot that covers the hand-brake lever at the rear. The new wheel cylinder comes complete with the cir-clip and bleed nipple so bleeding the system once re-assembled should be straight forward. I’ve also bought a new set of brake pipes from E-bay and a 3-way connector so the braking system should be as good as new once re-assembled. When I had the underside of the car sand-blasted, I was told that there was a fluid leak from the rear brakes. I haven’t found the culprit yet. That’s the second good reason to replace all the hydraulics.

Rear Drive Shafts

The drive shafts looked worst than they turned out to be - quite a surprise for a stag. The Universal Joints are all strong although I have noticed that a couple have been welded in! I'll have to grind them out when they come to need replacing.

Both the inner and outer drive shafts were pitted with rust but it was only surface rust which was cleaned up with a wire brush before re-painting with a couple of coats of Hammerite. The hub bearings were also remarkably smooth and quiet so I haven't touched them either. Just a couple of new gaiters.

Front Extension & Quill Shaft

Having removed the front extension from the diff, I found the bearing was making a horrible griding noise. So the only thing for it was to dismantle the extension housing and replace the bearing.

To do this, I first removed the drive flange and the first of the two circlips. The operations manaul then tells you to "tap out the bearing" by inserting a drift into the hollow end of the quill shaft. Easier said then done. Even with a very large hammer and plenty of WD40, it took me quite a time to ease it out without damaging anything in the process. My first "give it a big wack method" didn't work. I had to move it out a few millimeters, push it back, more WD40, and repeat several times.

Once out, I took the opportinity to clean up and repaing the housing ang the drive flange, before fitting a new baering and reassembling. Looks and feels like new now.

Rear Subframe Arms

With the front suspension now refurbished, it's time to start the rear. The obvious first task being to remove the hand brake cable and the prop shaft which both gave no problem at all - at least after I had stuffed a rag into the rear of the auto box - the fluid just kept on coming out.....

There are only really 4 bolts holding the rear suspension and drive train to the chassis of a Stag. The 2 connecting the anti-vibration straps to the rear floor and the 2 connecting the differential to its mounting plate. The whole rear suspension, diff and brakes all then drop from the car. Simple but very heavy so make sure you have a jack under the hypoid casing of the diff before you start!!.

Once detatched from the car, the rear suspension components, drive shafts and brakes can be dismantled and refurbished seperately. You will read about these later.

The first items I tackled were the rear subframe arms. Whilst these are fairly heftly lumps of steel, you can see that mine have suffered from major rust ingress to the point where holes can be seen on the base and sides close to the rear subframe bush. How this ever got through it's last MOT. I'm amazed. These holes had been covered by a thick coating of underseal but are clearly dangerous as a quarter of the weight and cornering forces of the vehicle pass through this point.

I managed to find a couple of rear subframe arms at the Triumph show at Stoneligh earlier this year. They where in a scrap bin and covered in rust and muck - but solid. I paid £30 for the pair. Rimmer price for used is £60 each or £140 for new. After a good going-over with a wire brush and several coats of epoxy paint, both came up looking great and with no signs of rust ingress. A bit of elbow grease and paint but a saving of over £250 !!

I also reburbished and painted the brackets, cleaned and replaced the shims, and bought some more nylocs and a new rear sub-frame bush. Looks better than new now. Ready to go back on.

Damper struts and final assembly

I refurbished the struts a few posts ago (https://arkauto.co.uk/front-suspension-reassembly-part-3). Putting them back into the torrets in each front wing is a simple process on paper, but as a single pair of hands their weight and size makes this more difficult. I couldn't hold them in place at the bottom and thread on the 3 nylocs from the top. I could have dissassembled the hubs from the struts, but instead I devised a pin that fitted in the ball joint mounting hole in the vertical link and mounted on my hydraulic jack. I was then able to take the weight of the damper and hub assembly on the jack and slowly ease it up into the turret where I could secure it from the top.

The Leyland Repair manual suggests the use of Plastiseal between the upper surface of the strut top mounting and the underside of the turret. After a little investigation, Plastiseal turns out to be a rubberised bitumen compound, that is widely available nowerdays for repairing roofing. Easy to get hold of and fairly cheap.

With the damper, strut and hub now hanging within the front wing, the refurbished drag strut, track control arm and anti-roll bar can all be connected with their new bushes, new ball joints and shiny new bolts and fixings. Using the Leyland repair manual and the Haynes bible, I pulled together a list of the torque setting I would need.

They are here for reference - Torque Settings.

Setting the correct torque is all about access. Tightening each element in the right order. This is the order I used, which only left a couple of bolts where I couldn't get the torque wrench into play:

  1. Anti-roll bar fixing
  2. Steering rack mounting bracket to rack
  3. Steering Rack mounting bracket to cross member
  4. Damper to vertical link
  5. Calliper to vertical link
  6. Stub axle to vertical link
  7. Tie rod to vertical link
  8. Ball joint to vertical link
  9. Drag strut to body
  10. Track arm to cross member
  11. Drag strut to track arm
  12. Anti-roll bar to link assembly
  13. Anti-roll bar link assembly to drag strut
  14. Steering rack track rod end ball joint

The final job was to connect the replacement ATF cooler. It had to be a replacement. They are so easily damaged that second hand units are in a generally very poor state.

Steering Rack and Anti-Roll Bar

With the sump back on, I replaced the repaired front cross member with some new bolts. The 4 closest to the engine are the shorter (bolt) and the 4 outer ones are the longer (setscrew).

Then the steering rack went back on. I fugured out why the drivers side bracket was a complex 2 plate affair. It allows for the variability in the position and condition of the mounting bushes. Tighten the bolts through the mounting bushes first and then lock down the sterring rack with the 4 bolts through the brackets.

Finally for today was the fitting of the anti-roll bar. I had already cleaned it and repainted it with a couple of coats of hammerite. I had also splashed out on new mountings - bushes, cups and U-clamps. Although I ended up re-using the old cups as the new ones were a little flimsy and didn't fit well. After completing the trial fitting I realised I had made a mistake. I had forgetten to fit the brackets that hold the Auto Fluid cooler. So off it all had to come so I could get the brackets in place.

Steering Rack Bushes

Time to re-assemble the front cross member. First job is to fit the four new rubber bushes upon which to re-mount the steering rack. Without a press, I use a long bolt, a number of washers and a little lubrication - always helps. Oh and don't forget to clean the paint from the inside and the lip of the steel tube where the bush is inserted. It makes a hugh difference.

All four went back in without protest.

Replacement Sump

At some point in it's history, OUA444L had some harsh treatment, or just bad luck. Impossible to tell now apart from the impact damage on the sump. Clearly a heavy collision. A very large dent which bent the sump out of shape. Whilst at the Triumph & MG Spare show at Stoneleigh earlier this year I found a sump that was the correct shape albeit with some surface rust.

With the front suspension and front cross member removed, now was a very good time to tackle the sump replacement. The sump is secured with 21 (yes 21) bolts. 19 screw into the tapped block from the underside, but 2 are bolts dropped in from above with nuts and washer underneath. Puzzling but there must have been a reason.

Once the bolts are undone then a tap with a hammer to break the gasket seal and off it came. The photos show the old sump on the right complete with residual gasket and the engine sludge sitting in the dented base. On the left is the replacement. Cleaned and painted (on the outside) with a nice new gasket ready to be refitted.

Refitting was simply a matter of offering up the replacement unit to the block. Taking care not to dislodge the gasket. Then replacing the 21 bolts. I tightened up the bolts in a manner that would pull the sump in evenly so as not to snagg the gasket. I hope I have tightened each sufficiently - time will tell.

With the sump off i took a few photos of the crank - the block number 1522 can be clearly seen on the left.

More Chassis Repairs

After removing the front cross member I discovered more rust. As well as rusting the cross member itself very thin on the square plate that rests on the chassis itslef, the chassis was actually holed by rust above this plate. Moisture was obviously settling at this low point intside the chassis. It then rotten through the chassis and had almost rotted through the cross member. All absolutely invisible until you take the crossmember off.

 

 

After a few minutes with an abrasive wheel I had a clear view of the area. Not only was the chassis above the cross member corroded but also infornt of this point had similar corrosion and signs of a previous repair.

 

 

As with the cross member, I decided to make a patch out of 1.5mm mild steel plate to replace the corroded area completely. I made paper templates, transferred them to the steel, cut and shaped them, making sure I accurately transposed the positions of the bolt holes.

 

Then I MIG welded them in place making sure I had good penetration on clean steel, before tidying up with the grinder. I also gave the chassis and the rear side of the plates a good coating of weld through primer to act as another barrier against future rot.

 

Front Crossmember

Having already removed the suspension struts from both front wings, it seemed logical to finish the process by also removing the front crossmember. A number of reasons: a) it gives me better access to the oil sump which is badly distorted/bend and really needs replacing; b) I want to check that the crossmember is rust free whilst the rest of the front suspension is off the car; c) any repair work will be far easier on my bench.

Removal (once the suspension and steering rack is removed) is simply a matter of undoing the 8 bolts that hold it to the chassis. It then falls away and is not too heavy so easy to handle. As you can see from the photo, the front crossmember was covered in grease and dirt, and the passenger side mounting pad was heavily rusted.

Pressure washing, degreasing and pressure washing again, eventually removed the years of road grime, oil and grease especially around the bush mounting tubes. The steel was good underneath the muck, probably because it was so impregnated with oil. I had already ordered new rubber bushes, so the next job was to remove the old ones that were clearly falling to bits. I don’t have a press, so I used a method I have used many times before – a long threaded bolt, some carefully sized washers and a large socket. Together, the tightening of the nut at the socket end of the contraption, pulls the washer through the bush mounting tube and removes the bush with it. All 4 bushes came free without incident.

The final element of disassembly on the front crossmember was the removal of the rust on the passenger side sub-frame mounting pad. This is one of the most important structural parts of the car as it transfers the weight, cornering forces and road impact stresses from the passenger side front suspension to the chassis.  A few moments with a hammer and drift revealed that about 50% of the steel in the center portion of the pad had been lost to rust. Although the pad was not holed, the strength of the structure was close to being compromised. Another couple of years and it would probably collapse under stress. So I set about some welding repair work.

This consisted of manufacturing a 1.5mm steel plate to fit over the complete pad and welding it in place. Taking care to make sure it wouldn’t obstruct it’s intimate connection with the equivalent pad on the chassis. I am happy with the result. This area of the front crossmember is now structurally stronger than it was originally, let alone before the repair. The whole front crossmember now needs priming and painting before I refit the new bushes.

 

Power Steering Rack

Having removed this from the Stag, it doesn’t look like it needs much refurbishment and certainly worked fine when the car was on the road a few months ago. Even the track rod ends look almost new. So a good external clean and a coat of paint should smarten it up and give it a little further longevity.

While I had it on the bench I also swapped the gasket between where the spool shaft meets the rack itself, as well as a new set of gaiters.

Removing the hydraulic pipework from around the steering rack seemed like a good idea to give better access to clean and paint it. However, getting the pipes back on without cross threading them is a delicate and frustrating process – be aware.

Front Suspension Reassembly – Part 3

I’ve now reconditioned or replaced all of the major components of both sides of the front suspension. The reconditioned parts have beed brushed down, sanded and painted and look as fresh as the purchased ones.

Both struts are now back together using the replacement strut casings and plenty of lock-tight on the threads – excuse the greasy paw prints on the new paint in this photo.

Here are both of the reconditioned drag struts with nice new rubber bushes.

The next task is to remove all the underseal from the passenger side front wheel arch, repair anything that needs it and painting it all before the suspension goes back on.

Front Wheel Arch

Scraping

When the underside of the car was soda blasted, the wheels were still attached, so the wheel arches could not be stripped of the old underseal. So this needed to be done the old fashioned way. A scraper and elbow grease.

Finishing

After a number of hours it looked like this. I then set about the final reside withwire wool and white spirit. Finally I could see the steel and the panels which had obviously beed replaced at some point. The panel gaps between the inner and our wing sections were not good, but there was thankfully very little rust. After treating the surfaces with Rust Buster Fe-123), I filled the gaps with seam sealer and gave the whole wheel arch a good coat of epoxy paint (Rust Buster epoxy mastic 121). I will give it another coat, but it looks much better even now and I have the peice of mind of knowing that the metal is sound and protected.

Front Suspension Reassembly – Part 2

Adjustable Pin Wrench

First thing this morning I made the call to MachineMart to check the stock levels for their adjustable pin wrench. Their customers services said they would check the closest store in Wolverhampton and phone me back. After lunch – still no call so I phoned their Wolverhapton store direct – no stock. So I phoned their Stoke store – again no stock. MachineMart – if you want to sell things you need to stock things people want to buy or they will simply buy from elsewhere. So I found one in Toolstation (Toolstation Pin Wrench) in Cannock. Their website helpfully gives details of stock levels and their customer service was very good – so much so I ended up buying 2 other items as well as the wrench:

MachineMart – 2 stars; Toolstation – 5 stars.

Front Strut Assembly

Using the pin wrench I was quickly able to tighten the strut insert into the strut itself and then on went the nice new clean gaiter. Now the slightly scary bit – compressing the spring to allow the front spring upper seat pan and strut top mounting to be threaded onto the strut insert. As well as the variuos washers and the top and bottom spring insulators. I was surprised just how much I needed to compress the spring in order to finish the assembly. Trying not to think of the energy I was forcing into the spring steel and what would happen if the spring compressors gave up.

Then the new nyloc was in place and the strut assembly was complete – I’m very pleased with the end result.

Hub and Calliper

The most difficult peices to dissassemle turned out to be the easiest to reassemble. First I bolted the front hub assembly to the brake disk. The original bolts were seized solid, so I’ve made sure they have plenty of copper grease on the threads before I put them together with new bolts.

I then bolted the newly painted brake caliper back in place over the brake disk and re-positioned the brake pads – again with plenty of copper grease on the back to prevent any squealing.

 

Finally, I bolted together the strut assembly and hub to complete the bulk of the refurbishment job. The full refurbishment job will be completed once the wheel arches are ready to accept them.

Addendum

The next day I started the preparation of the front wheel arch ready to accept the nice reburbished suspension (see my next post). However, whilst my head was in the wheel arch as I scraped out the old underseal, I heard a loud noise. The strut insert and strut casing had parted company. All of that energy I  so warily injected into the spring had ripped the threaded insert from the top of the strut casing. Luckily no damage was done, other than to the shelf that the assembly was resting on. It was removed from the wall by the rapid explosion of force released from the compressed spring.

Note of Caution: Stag Suspension Refurbishment

I spoke with James Paddock to understand if I had bought the wrong damper and threaded strut insert. No – there is only one thread size. There are a few types of damper (Gaz, Koni etc.) which have slightly different profiles with slightly different shaped profiles of threaded strut insert, but they all have the same thread size.

The most likely cause of the problem I experienced is the peening of the top edge of the strut casing which is put in place at manufacture. This process bends a small amout of the strut casing over the top of the threaded insert to prevent it coming free. This is the reason that the strut insert is so difficult to remove from the strut casing in most cases. In order to part the two, the peening must be reversed by re-bending the strut casing with a hammer and drift. This effectively opens up the diameter of the threaded part of the casing if not done very carefully.  I am pretty sure this is what has happen, as I didn’t have any trouble parting the strut insert from the strut casing and the new threaded insert “dropped” into the casing a couple of millimeters before it engaged with the threads.

James Paddock put me in contact with Tony White (Stag breaker) who luckily had a spare couple of strut casings for sale.  These both confirmed my hypothesis. The threaded inserts fitted far better into both of these units. No clearence, no “dropping” in and much tighter. I will scrap the originals and use these once I have cleaned and painted them.

This could have ended far worse had I been in the vacinity of the strut when the two parted company, or even if this occured whilst driving. Pay special attention here!!

Front Suspension Reassembly

Top Strut Mounting

With the paint all dry now and the replacement parts having arrived from James Paddocks, it’s time to get started putting it all back together. Starting at the top of the strut, the first job was to fit the top strut sleeve and bush. The sleeve is simply tapped in and the bush pushed into the sleeve after a healthy layer of grease.

Strut and Insert

Next I looked at building the strut itself. The original strut had a large washer at the bottom to adjust for manufacturing tolerances. BL didn’t work in thousands of an inch back in the seventies in seems. This washer was at least 3mm. The new damper didn’t need the additional washer at the bottom. Neither would it fit properly with the original strut threaded cap. The new strut did come with a new  threaded cap but I don’t have a 40mm pin wrench to tighten it with. The law of sod applies again. I’ve found one in Machine Mart (Adjustable Pin Wrench) and will fetch it in the morning.

Front Hub

To fill some available time, I then started building the hub and the stub axle assembly. As I didn’t need to replace the bearings, this didn’t take long.  Packed it full of new grease, tightened it up and dropped in a new split pin, then put the dust cover back on. The dust cover was already dented – I haven’t the £6 on a new one as it is only an unseen dust cap, and I have repainted it.

 

Front Suspension Refurb

Dismantling:

The underside of the car is now clean and ready for repair and painting. To improve access I might as well remove some of the obstacles, for example the front suspension.

I need to do this anyway as the bushes look perished on the track control arm and anti-roll bar mountings. As they all look a similar age, then it’s probably worth replacing the lot. I’ll dismantle first and then decide.

The first step was to disconnect and drain the brake calliper. Followed by compressing the road spring (carefully and safely) with a set of spring compressors. With the tension released from the suspension, I could then break the taper joints on the track control arm ball joint and anti-roll bar ball joint. Releasing the anti-roll bar ball joint was quite straight forward. A couple of sharp blows with a hammer and it dropped apart. The track control arm ball joint put up considerably more resistance. In the end the joint gave up and disintegrated into it’s component pieces. One way to get it off I suppose.

I then disconnected and removed the drag strut, suspension leg and hub. That left the wheel arch free and open to complete the repairs apart from the anti-roll bar itself. With the engine and alternator in place the mounting bolts for the anti-roll bar bracket on the drivers side are a bit tricky to get to. Made more so by the fact they were initially seized. Patience, penetrating oil and brute force eventually proved over-whelming although the car did exert some revenge , by snapping a Halfords 1/2inch socket and removing the skin from my knuckles.

Disk Brake & Calliper

With the major front suspension components off the car, I could work on each of them on the bench. After removing the brake calliper it looked fairly new and the pads were hardly worn. I think this just needs degreasing and an new coat of paint.

Removing the disk from the hub should have been straight forward – after all this is a regular maintenance job. But no. Even after soaking in penetrating oil,  2 of the retaining bolts wouldn’t budge. To compound the problem my 9/16″ socket has side walls too thick to fit properly around the bolt head. So I used a metric 13 which eventually rounded the heads of both seized bolts.

What to do?

Well if in doubt Google it. Sure enough there is a readily available tool called a grip nut remover tool. After reading some reviews the best one seemed to be the Irwin brand which arrived next day courtesy of Amazon Prime. It worked a treat – plenty of penetrating oil, some heat on the hub and a pri-bar behind the Irwin socket and the seized bolts both started to move again.

Suspension Leg

I was hoping not to have to replace the dampers, but on extracting the damper from the strut, there was a pool of damper oil in the strut.  This type of damper was the original fit.   So a new set of dampers along with bushes, gaiters and insulator pads are all needed for peace of mind. Thankfully the hub bearings and stub axle looked and felt OK.

With the drivers side front suspension now stopped back to it’s main components, I could assess the extent of the new parts needed. Pretty much all of the bushes, bearings, ball joints, gaiters, nuts and bolts along with dampers and some new springs just for good measure (may as well).

 

De-rusting the ironwork

After placing the order with Mr J Paddock, I set about reburbishing the components I am not replacing. These are mainly composed of the heavy iron work and dust shields.

All need to be:

  • Wire brushed to remove surface rust;
  • The remaining rust treated (I use Rust Buster Fe-123);
  • Then finally a clean coat of new paint. I tend to either use Hammerite or Rust Buster epoxy mastic 121.

Both give far more protection that the new part ever had, and both also give a reasonable finish. Not as good as powder coating, but then far less expensive.